As ingenious as nature's invention of myelin sheaths within the mammalian nervous system is, as fatal can be damage to this specialized lipid structure. Long-term loss of electrical insulation and of further supportive functions myelin provides to axons, as seen in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), leads to neurodegeneration and results in progressive disabilities. Multiple lines of evidence have demonstrated the increasing inability of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) to replace lost oligodendrocytes (OLs) in order to restore lost myelin. Much research has been dedicated to reveal potential reasons for this regeneration deficit but despite promising approaches no remyelination-promoting drugs have successfully been developed yet. In addition to OPCs neural stem cells of the adult central nervous system also hold a high potential to generate myelinating OLs. There are at least two neural stem cell niches in the brain, the subventricular zone lining the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, and an additional source of neural stem cells has been located in the central canal of the spinal cord. While a substantial body of literature has described their neurogenic capacity, still little is known about the oligodendrogenic potential of these cells, even if some animal studies have provided proof of their contribution to remyelination. In this review, we summarize and discuss these studies, taking into account the different niches, the heterogeneity within and between stem cell niches and present current strategies of how to promote stem cell-mediated myelin repair.
Keywords: adult neural stem cell niche; heterogeneity; inhibitors; intracellular protein localization; multiple sclerosis; neuroregeneration; oligodendrocyte; remyelination.